Zellweger pic fires a shot over 'Captain's' bow

In its world preem in the U.K. over the weekend, “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” was relegated to playing second fiddle to the fourth stanza of local phenom “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” while most major markets continued to endure a severe case of springtime blues.

“The Wedding Planner” was one of the few other new releases to make its mark, taking pole position in Germany and Austria with figures that would have meant a medium-level entry in buoyant times.

WWII-set romantic drama toplining Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz, “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” strummed up an estimated $1.5 million Friday-Saturday on 375 screens in the U.K. for local distrib BVI.

It made sense to launch the Working Title production helmed by John Madden in Blighty as it’s based on a bestselling novel by a former U.K. school teacher, but the two-day figure has to be rated as below expectations, coming in 38% behind “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” the Renee Zellweger starrer that penned a sterling $2.4 million on 418.

That gave Working Title the two top-ranked titles in the U.K., ahead of a mediocre debut by “Along Came a Spider” (an estimated $576,000 on 295) and the soph session of “The Mexican” ($574,000 on 381).

“Wedding Planner,” the Jennifer Lopez starrer, walked down the aisle with about $1.1 million Thursday through Saturday on 523 in Germany, finally dethroning Sandra Bullock’s “Miss Congeniality” ($538,000 on 478), which slipped to third after a remarkable five weeks on top. “Exit Wounds” landed in Germany with an anemic $667,000 on 454.

After tanking in Mexico and Australia, Fox’s domestic dud “Say It Isn’t So” resonated a bit better in Spain, mustering an estimated $676,000 in three days on 223. Local laffer “Torrente 2″ ruled in its sixth frame, minting about $371,000 in two days on 242, while “Sweet November” found a sour $264,000 in two days on 137.

In Australia, “The Mexican” stayed aloft in its third weekend, capturing an estimated $563,000 in four days on 204, ahead of freshmen “Thirteen Days” (a solid $323,000 on 65) and “Valentine” (a soft $274,000 on 129).

In Mexico, “Miss Congeniality” is still champ, fetching an estimated $378,000 in its third round Friday-Saturday on 200. Gallic pic “The Crimson Rivers” flowed into Mexico with a modest $238,000 in two days on 181 and took $329,000 in its third lap on 193 in Germany.

In Argentina, “Miss Congeniality” held top spot Friday-Saturday in its sophomore outing ($148,000 on 53), beating the second round of Guy Ritchie’s “Snatch” ($125,000 on 40).

John Boorman”s “The Tailor of Panama” sewed up fourth place in Switzerland, with a decent $105,000 on 24 screens for its bow Wednesday through Saturday.

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